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What's On First?

(CBS)
Over at Fishbowl DC, Patrick Gavin wonders if the media is beginning to tire of the war in Lebanon, noting: "For the first time, The New York Times today does not feature its update on the Middle East violence on the front page." Technically, Gavin is right the paper's front page did not include an "update" of the violence but it did have two large pictures of funerals from both sides of the conflict and a large above-the-fold story about how Arab opinion is flowing toward supporting Hezbollah.

I'm not sure how you square that with the idea that the media is becoming bored or uninterested in the conflict. But along those lines, we noticed that the CBS "Evening News" last night led with the Tour de France doping story involving American winner Floyd Landis before turning its attention to the day's war news. Both ABC and NBC led their broadcasts with the war. I asked "Evening News" Executive Producer Rome Hartman about the decision, and he told me the dynamics of the decision were "pretty simple": "I thought Landis was a big story, and there were no overwhelming new developments in the Mideast yesterday."

That's in a sense what the Times was saying by putting a bigger-themed story on its front page instead of the day's events. The Landis story also landed on the paper's front-page. One of the benefits of a newspaper is more information can be presented right up front, television is sequential. Most broadcasts lead with the same stories each night but in the end it's the judgment call of each to make that call. So let's turn it around a little bit. If it was your call for tonight's broadcast, would you lead with the Israeli-Hezbollah situation or pick something else?